Photo via Alameda County Sheriff's Department/Facebook

Dispatchers save women attempting to take her own life on Facebook Live

They located where she was through phone 'pings.'

Feb 28, 2020, 4:56 pm*

IRL

Jessica Machado 

Jessica Machado

Warning: This story contains descriptions of attempted suicide. 

A woman who tried to stream her death on Facebook Live was saved by dispatchers in Alameda County, California, on Wednesday. 

The dispatchers were notified around 6:30am by an Idaho crisis center that the woman had called, according to SF Gate. Crisis workers had assumed she was in California, but when the dispatchers used phone “pings,” requested from telephone companies to triangulate the woman’s location, they found she was in Long Island, New York, and notified police there. 

The Alameda dispatchers continued to monitor the woman’s Facebook page, and when she suddenly went “live,” video showed her in her car, harming herself, and talking about ending her life.

The dispatchers were able to use another ping to match her Facebook surroundings to Google Maps and give her exact location to the police. 

The woman was found unconscious but was taken to a hospital, where she is now stable and getting psychological treatment, Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, told SF Gate. 

“Where once people left suicide notes or messages, law enforcement is now seeing people actually recording their deaths,” Kelly said. “Obviously, that’s disturbing, but in a certain way, it can be good because it’s an immediate notification to friends and family that something bad is going on. In this case, we were able to save someone’s life. Maybe it’s a double-edged thing.”

There has been a recent slate of suicides streamed on Facebook Live. On Sunday, a 14-year-old girl in Miami took her own life in the bathroom of her foster home while streaming the act. A day later, an aspiring male actor in L.A., who had been arrested recently on sexual assault charges, also filmed his death on Facebook. Weeks before that, a 12-year-old girl in Georgia, who was allegedly the victim of sexual assault, broadcast her death. 

For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.). 

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*First Published: Jan 27, 2017, 11:50 am